How Self-Leadership Can Help Move The Needle Forward On Your Vision And Goals We all have a responsibility to ourselves to be effective in our self leadership to create the life and impact we desire.
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It's no big secret that the first step towards any form of leadership starts with the self. Our ability to lead ourselves is crucial. It's also intertwined with our own self awareness. They are very much two faces of the same coin.
Still, if you're like most, it's not always easy to sustain self-leadership. As a coach, author, and speaker, I have been working in self-leadership for the best part of 12 years. At the very core of my definition of self-leadership is one's ability to lead in their individual thoughts, feelings, and actions. This includes taking responsibility in knowing that our choices drive our outcomes. In order for us to lead ourselves better, we have to have the self awareness of who we are, including what makes us tick. We also have to dive in deep to know our motives and life objectives.
Once we know our objectives, our ability to keep moving the needle forward on them will derive from our ability or inability to lead ourselves through life's challenges and opportunities. This includes everything from the small and seemingly insignificant choices we make on a daily basis to those which effect our life courses- who we decide to be in a relationship with, the client we take on, whether to have that second child, should we accept that job. How effective you are at self-leadership determines whether you achieve your desired outcomes.
Over the past year, I was personally reminded of the need for self-leadership. I have been on a huge health journey. Diagnosed with diabetes in April 2022, I vowed to my doctor I would reverse the condition in three months, and I did just that. My ability to lead myself was central to this remarkable turnaround. I knew that the same Mark Sephton that had given me type 2 diabetes was the same Mark Sephton that could rid myself of it. So, I took responsibility, and I took action. I ramped up my exercise regimen by 70% to lose weight. I cut out all sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates. It wasn't easy, but I had a big "why," and when your "why" is big enough, the "how" isn't so difficult.
We all have a responsibility to ourselves to be effective in our self-leadership to create the life and impact we desire. I caught up with Danijella Dragas, an investment banker and serial entrepreneur who has also assisted startup companies, organizations, and non-profit foundations with their operations. She also serves as a Board Member for Football For PEACE, USA chapter. Her work, as well as her background in sports, has equipped her to lead both in her personal and professional life. I talked to Danijella to find out how self-leadership has played a role in her achievements and her success- excerpts from our conversation:
When you consider your own self-leadership, what has helped you to keep moving the needle forward?
An inquisitive mind firstly has steered me well throughout the years. As my career has evolved, the client base has diversified, and so has my staff and my partnerships. I discovered a natural need to understand their motivations, fears, and cultural differences. This has shaped and does shape my own self-leadership. I am a lot more understanding of my own triggers and viewpoints by being around others, as well as the choices I have made from my own background and life path. I have to be able to articulate my own experiences to others to truly move the organization forward, and to be genuine in my responses to clients.
After a transaction has closed or an interaction with partners, I also like to do a write-up of what we did well, how we can do better, and what we learned from that particular deal. I'm always looking to do better than my last transaction, not only from an efficiency standpoint, but from how the experience was for our staff, our vendors and partners, and for myself. If we can make it enjoyable for everyone, we motivate ourselves to repeat or be even better the next time. I hope to always perform better for the client than I could have wished for when we first started, and that everyone feels a sense of involvement, recognition, and looks forward to the next challenge.
Danijella Dragas, an investment banker and serial entrepreneur. Source: Dragas
Why has self-leadership become so important to your own entrepreneurial journey and success?
It's the most critical part of your life. When you are doing something for so many hours of your day, something that takes up so much of your life, your self-leadership should be able to motivate yourself and those around you. This involves the positive talk you give yourselves, the planning, and the implementation. To do better, I have to be able to prove this to myself and have the conviction that the work I do behind the scenes will show in my daily performance. This could mean taking up physical exercise to give back to myself, to improve my energy level, and to relieve stress so that when I am back at office, I am calmer and clearheaded. I try to have a balanced life. I feel that balance is the key to self-leadership.
You have transitioned into many expressions of entrepreneurship. What self-leadership traits do you attribute this ability to evolve and become multi-skilled?
Insight and vision. I have always been able to network naturally. Integrity and tenacity are the key words I have used throughout my life. Being trusted has opened up so many doors and many diverse sectors that I look back and now think: how did I get here, and how did I have the ability to enter into this sector of business that was not my core business? I believe that answer to be trust and vision. I have been given the gift of seeing where strategic partnerships can move the needle for so many businesses that their products or leadership can grow both faster and more effectively than going alone. It's been a joy to bring people and businesses together for mutual benefit. Seeing the seed growing has been truly one of the many gifts in this lifetime.
How do you view the importance of how we dress for work? Does it set the tone and mood for how we better lead ourselves?
It's a key factor. You know the feeling when you look good. You feel good and the confidence grows. It's no different than putting on the shirt for your sports team. Your outfit of the day sets the tone. It's your ready, set, go, and action. First, setting your intention for the day starts with either mediation, playing with the children, the family pet, or putting your personal life in order. Dressing for the day is part of the mental preparation, the game-time approach, the mental reset to the role you step into. You might call it your wind-up. It's not just first impressions. The dress sets the tone for the office, the meeting. If you are looking the part, you will feel the part. The external dress reflects the inner mind.
Self-leadership is very much about how we show up each and every day. What wisdom can you share that can help someone keep progressing even when they've been doing what they've been doing for years and years?
My advice is to find what you love to do, so you can get out every day with passion, and with motivation in your purpose. I believe the human spirit needs purpose. This drive sustains you throughout the years. In addition, and just as important, is surrounding yourself with positive, supportive partners, and staff, while creating a one-goal mentality and team spirit. That is where my sports background is utilized every single day. The mentality of setting goals and following through on them is a very infectious way to lead plus build validation and team spirit. Throughout the years, you will have success, failures, and trials to combat the potential burnout that I have seen in the workforce. Sustaining your passion is key, while also making sure that you take care of your personal needs. That might be a simple 30 minutes to yourself in the morning, a lunchtime walk, or doing something that is for yourself. Self-care and being kind to yourself is an important part of self-leadership, and a big part of the journey.